Devlin’s Attorney Enters the Dance

For those of you who don’t understand the dynamics of trial, moreover the “pas de deux” between prosecutors and defenders, allow me to underscore how you should not place any importance whatsoever upon the following:

Ethan Corlija met with AP writer Christopher Leonard today (Thursday) and stated that he is not interested in any plea deal Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks might offer his client, Michael J. Devlin, at this time.

Did you actually believe he would state otherwise?  Come on, folks.  Things are just getting going well in Missouri and we have miles upon miles upon miles to go before the first of Devlin’s three or four trials even begin.

All this means is the Defense has now entered the dance floor.  To wit:

Prosecutor Robert Parks announced Tuesday that he and all the other jurisdictions have been getting together to form a plea agreement that they may soon offer Devlin, and that said agreement would include a stipulation for “several, several life sentences.”  Parks and other prosecutors and the Feds want Devlin put away for the rest of his natural life.  So do we.  Parks also reiterated to reporters that this deal to come has not yet come to pass.  Nothing offered yet, except by insinuation.  Powerful stuff that.

Ethan Corlija may be young and relatively inexperienced, but he is unquestionably a rising star in the criminal defense world and was fairly well regarded (from what I’m told) in St. Louis well before the headache that is Devlin landed on his doorstep.  In short, young Corlija is sharp as a brand new tack, as is his compadre, Michael Kielty.

Per Corlija to Leonard, Park’s heretofore untendered offer (so how exactly would he know what is offered…) would basically be the amount of imprisonment if Devlin were convicted of each and every charge levied against him at the maximum sentencing range. 

“If in Bob Parks’ mind, he thinks that this is a reasonable plea negotiation or a reasonable plea agreement — we would certainly discourage our client from taking it. What’s the advantage?” Corlija said.  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Corlija took those very words from one of a billion chat room conversations somewhere.

Proof of false brivado:  Corlija stated he believes his chances in “winning some freedoms” for his client are better before a jury.  Maybe, just maybe a jury would return concurrent sentences, instead of the consecutive ones Parks wants.  In Corlija’s perfect world, if Devlin was convicted of say 25 of the 80+ state and federal charges levied against him so far, maybe a kind-hearted jury would let Devlin serve all of them at one time.  Maybe, just maybe, Devlin could be released when he hits 70.

Have I missed some Global Warming threat to the ambient temperature in Hades lately…???

Don’t buy it folks, because even Corlija doesn’t.  But he has to say stuff like that.  It’s his responsibility to do so, even if he believes his client is the most egreggious monster ever to walk among us, which he probably personally does…except for the future profits Devlin will bring his firm and, on that point, Corlija loves him.

This is all part of the legal Pas de Deux.

What does this mean?  Zippo.  Nadda.  Absolutely nothing.  But it will serve as fodder for folks to blog about or argue upon in chat rooms and speculate as to the what-ifs.

Mark my words here:  The evidentiary case alone against Devlin is overwhelming.  I personally doubt there has ever gone before another defandant with as much physical evidence, moreover more damning testimony from victims, than Michael J. Devlin.  I pray we never see another, but doubt that.

Corlija and Kielty are — despite any information they offer to the press to the contrary — between an exceptionally large granite boulder and a huge mile-thick wall of tungsten steel with this case.  After kidnapping an 11-year-old innocent boy and spending the next four-and-a-half years sodomizing him, then getting bored, kidnapping another and sodomizing him for the next four days, their client has achieved the international infamy reserved heretofore for monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer.  Unlike Dahmer, both of Devlin’s victims are alive and well.  Even Shawn is slowly adjusting and reacquainting himself with a safe, happy life.  Far from merely surviving his captivity, this young fellow has further found amazing strength in most willingly giving investigators incredible evidence against Devlin. 

This case is, without exaggeration, a prosecutor’s wildest dream come true.

While the maternal and paternal instincts in all of us wants Shawn Hornbeck to be able to avoid having to testify, I have no doubt whatsoever that he is more than willing  do so.  He’s not eleven any more.  And I bet he resents the loss of his intended life over the last four years more than all of us put together.

So, while Corlija and Kielty dangle the threat of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby having to testify, while they play media hardball with prosecutors, clearly understand that the greatest threat of all to their client IS Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby testifying before a jury.

And for those who might wonder why Devlin would ever agree to a plea agreement, allow me to add this:  Devlin is a 300-pound sociopath who is terrified of adult relationships and gets his kicks out of terrorizing and hurting children.  He will never, ever want to appear at a trial before his adult peers, whom he knows not only want to crucify him but have more evidence and compelling testimony than ever before to do so.  Devlin just wants to crawl into a hole and forget this ever happened.  Heck, he probably would rather roll back time to a year ago, when life was good…

Corlija and Kielty are well aware of this, but they have quite a bit of time to play their position up in the press.  But when the dust settles, these two sharp attorneys will finally admit (by their actions in garnering their client’s acceptance to a plea agreement) that their client’s best deal possible lay with the deal itself and certainly not with a jury.

For a little light reading, Christopher Leonard’s story is here:

Update 3/9/07:

This short article in the Missourian underscores my points.  Robert Parks is  confused with Corlija’s response refusing a plea deal that has not even been tendered…


4 responses to “Devlin’s Attorney Enters the Dance

  1. I hope you’re right. It could also be possible that the fiend wants to continue to hurt and humiliate his victims, and as far as I can tell his only chance to do that now would be to force them to testify at multiple trials where his attorneys try to make the victims look like liars or worse. The evidence against Couey was substantial, yet he went to trial and forced his victim’s family to hear every grim detail–for what gain?

  2. I understand your point, Cordelia. And, of course, you may be right and not I. However, I doubt it. It’s just the nature of the evidence held against Devlin, the majority of which the public is not privvy to, that makes this case stand apart from all others in my mind.

    Insofar as Couey is concerned, that trial and its evidence was completely different from what is to come in the Devlin matter. Again, Devlin’s victims are alive to testify, where Couey’s was not. And the reason why Couey’s attorneys went to jury trial was because their strategy — the only one they could reasonably test — was that Couey is mentally retarded and criminally insane. Have you ever heard of a defendant being allowed to doodle and color in court? No, you haven’t. More importantly, no one in the legal world has either.

    The physical evidence against Couey and the belief that this defense strategy would backfire was the impetus for prosecutors to allow his artwork. And backfire, it did. Not only was Couey found guilty on all counts posed, but jurors and court monitors watched Couey pay close attention when it mattered. I personally look forward now to learning the outcome of Couey’s punishment. That will reveal how much credence the jury placed on Couey’s mental status.

    Shawn and Ben may well have to appear in court. I will not deny that possibility. I can assure you, though, that they are being prepared for an appearance in the event this matter does go to trial. And if it does, I strongly assert their testimonies — egads, their youth and amazing credibility! — will exchange nails in Devlin’s legal coffin for lag bolts.

    Will Corlija and Kielty feel it worth the risk to take Devlin before a jury? Time will tell. They are clearly and properly waiting for discovery in the case to reveal the exact evidence against their client before negotiating their client’s future. To do anything less would be malpractice.

    There are too many credible and insurmountable strikes against Devlin for them to ever reasonably hope to achieve a parole for him in his octogenarian years. And there is not only the threat, but absolute reality of four separate courts to underscore that unachievable outcome.

    Trials are often a crap shoot. Except this time, Devlin’s attorneys won’t be able to find a pair of loaded dice if their very lives depend upon it.

  3. I just want to thank you for this blog. I have been facinated with this case from day 1, and find what you have to say very interesting. I hope Devlin acts like a man for once in his pitiful life, and spares the boys of having to relive the nightmare HE caused in court. If not, I am confident S & B will be brave and strong in court, and the sick, twisted pervert will end up rotting the rest of his days away in a cell with “big bubba” anyway. The evidence is irrefutable! I just want whatever is best for the boys. Whatever they want, I want. They deserve justice, PERIOD.

    May Devlin rot in hell with Couey.

  4. Hey, I have followed this case from day one! I do believe Devlin is as guilty as he can be. God bless the young boys. I hope Devlin get sentenced and then none of us ever know what happened to him, if you get the drift. It would be a Gods blessings.

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